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Washington Nationals news & notes: Mike Rizzo at the 2023 MLB GM Meetings + more...

Notes and quotes from GM Mike Rizzo at the GM Meetings in Arizona...

Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo listened when teams called about Kyle Finnegan (and other Nats, like Lane Thomas) at the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline, but ultimately, he explained, offers, “never reached the bar we set for each player.” Rizzo and Co. from the front office in D.C. are out in Scottsdale, AZ this week for the 2023 GM Meetings, and he was asked about potentially trading Finnegan (or fellow reliever Hunter Harvey) this winter, with the market for relief arms expected to be active, but he said while there is interest, there’s no pressing need to deal either reliever.

“Their names have come up in some different conversations,” Rizzo explained in a spot with MLB Network host Jon Morosi from Scottsdale. “They’re good, controllable players for us, and so we’re not looking to move them, but nothing — we never say no to any ideas — but we like them at the back end of our bullpen, [manager] Davey [Martinez] uses them a lot, and they were successful for us last year.”

So that’s a “no” unless another team knocks the Nationals’ socks off with an offer? But more importantly Rizzo said, they’re just at the GM Meetings to start conversations and get some idea of the market before they start building the 2024 roster in earnest.

“We’re here to set foundations for future deals,” he said.

“It’s a communication and relationships business, and we’re here to kind of revive some relationships and set the groundwork for deals that we’ll do later in the winter.”

“We’re just scratching the surface with this,” he reiterated at another point.

“How we’re going to construct this team for the winter, and we’ll talk about [Finnegan and Harvey] and any other ideas that other teams have.”

Now that the Hot Stove is heating up, with the World Series and the 2023 campaign over, talk is picking up, but Rizzo said it’s just talk so far for the Nationals.

“We’re personally not at that point yet,” Rizzo said when asked about the market moving fast early this offseason.

“Again, we’re kind of at the beginning phase of our process and we’re going to — we’ll look at the landscape and talk to other teams and agents and then take that back to the ballpark and see where it lands us.”

Morosi asked about Jeimer Candelario, who started the season in Washington, was traded to Chicago, and is drawing interest in Toronto already this winter.

Would the Nationals consider bringing the veteran back? Candelario hit 39 doubles and 22 home runs with a .251/.336/.471 line in 140 games and 576 plate appearances between the Nationals and the Cubs, in a 3.3 fWAR campaign.

He was dealt to the Cubbies at the trade deadline, in return for 22-year-old pitcher DJ Herz and 21-year-old infielder Kevin Made.

“We’re going to look at all of our options,” Rizzo said when asked about Candelario.

“He was a great teammate for us played well for us, he was a pleasure to have in the clubhouse and was really good with our young players and had a hell of a season for us, and appreciated what he did for us, and we got two nice prospects for him, so I think it was a win/win for both of us.”

Will there be more trades this winter? Some recent deals have helped restock the Nationals’ system, with Rizzo explaining it was depleted as the team competed for postseason berths and World Series titles between 2009 when he took over as GM and 2019 when they won it all. Morosi brought up the franchise-altering trade at the 2022 deadline which sent both Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the San Diego Padres in return for a prospect package including CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, James Wood (2*), Robert Hassell III (8), and Jarlin Susana (12), as well as veteran bat Luke Voit, asking Rizzo how he views the deal in hindsight?

[ed. note - * = Ranking on MLB Pipeline’s list of the Nationals’ top prospects.”]

“We see two of them [Abrams and Gore] at the big league level right now kind of cutting their teeth and improving as the season went on,” Rizzo told Morosi, “... which was really encouraging, and we’ve got — three of our better prospects in our system came from that trade. It’s all about making those guys better, seeing where their ceiling is, and getting to the big leagues and help be the core of another championship club.”


Rizzo also met with reporters in a press briefing from Scottsdale, with Washington Post writer Andrew Golden summing up the highlights on X/Twitter: